The Defense Ministry on Wednesday authorized the construction of 1,957 new homes in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Of those, 696 gained final approval, while the other 1,262 passed an initial approval stage.

Approximately half of the homes are slated to be built in peripheral Jewish communities, outside the more heavily populated blocs that some have argued should be annexed into Israel, leaving outlying areas to be made into a Palestinian state.

A 102-home project was approved for the town of Negohot southwest of Hebron, which currently has a population of approximately 300 people. A 54-home plan was approved for Har Bracha in Samaria (the home of Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal, who was murdered in a terror attack in February); an 84-home plan was approved for Nokdim, near Tekoa in Judea; and 70 homes were approved for Ateret, a town of 875 people northwest of Jerusalem in lower Samaria.

South Hebron Hills regional council chairman Yochai Damari thanked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman  in a statement,  emphasizing the value of the communities of the South Hebron Hills as a bloc “that maintains thousands of acres of state land and constitutes a security buffer protecting southern Israel.”

Some of the initial-stage projects include 189 homes in Talmon, northeast of Ramallah; 135 homes in Tene Omarim in the Southern Hebron Hills; 206 homes in Tzufim in Samaria; and 166 homes in Alei Zahav in Samaria, just 25 miles from Tel Aviv.